July 19, 2024

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EU budget dispute threatens €50bn war lifeline for Ukraine

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EU leaders risk leaving Ukraine empty-handed at a perilous moment in its war against Russia as divisions over finances threaten a €50bn lifeline for Kyiv and Hungary vows to thwart its EU membership talks.

Disputes within the EU over money and Ukraine’s future are endangering crucial pledges to Kyiv made months ago — just when the flow of US financial and military support for Ukraine has abruptly stalled in a politically divided Congress.

EU member states are far from reaching a deal over topping up the bloc’s joint budget — including €50bn for Ukraine — ahead of a summit in Brussels on December 14-15, said officials involved in the discussions.

EU efforts to reach a compromise are being hampered by the victory of a far-right party in last month’s Dutch election and a recent German court ruling curbing the government’s borrowing. A budget agreement would be “very, very difficult”, a senior official said.

Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s proposed $60bn package is struggling to pass through Congress.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Friday again vowed to veto the start of Ukraine’s EU membership talks, telling public radio it was “contrary to the interests of several member states” and accession might only be possible “many years from now”.

“We are in a good enough shape to dare say so, no matter the pressure we come under,” he said.

A failure to approve long-term funding, a separate €20bn facility for weapons purchases and the start of accession negotiations would be a hammer blow to Kyiv after the failure of its summer counteroffensive and growing concern about faltering western support. Olha Stefanishyna, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, last week described the EU summit as an “existential moment” for her country.

“It is crucial that the continued support for Ukraine remains and that we…

2023-12-03 16:00:34

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